The General Theory: Self-Control

John Paul Wright

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
The General Theory: Self-Control

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The "General Theory" of self-control posited in Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990 (see General Overviews) has spawned a broad array of research and debate. This General Theory provides scholars with a set of testable propositions. The first proposition outlines the dimensions of self-control. Most crimes, they argue, are simple to commit, require no long-term planning, and provide few long-term benefits. Given the nature of criminal behavior, individuals lacking in self-control should be risk-taking, adventurous, short-sighted, nonverbal, impulsive, and insensitive to others. Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990 argues that lack of self-control is not only “the” cause of crime but that lack of self-control also causes other “analogous” behaviors. Because individuals lacking in self-control are insensitive to others and are risk-taking, they are also more likely to experience problems in social relationships, such as marriage, they are more likely to use drugs and to abuse alcohol, and they are more likely not to wear a seat belt and to get into automobile accidents. This is referred to as the “generality” postulate of the General Theory. The cause of low self-control is found in parenting. Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990 maintains that parents must monitor their children, recognize bad behavior, and correct this bad behavior. This is referred to as the “origins” postulate. If self-control has not developed by ages eight to ten, they argue, it is not likely to develop. Self-control should thus be relatively stable across the life course. This is referred to as the “stability” postulate.

Article.  3064 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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